Lent is a season of reflection — a time to walk in love and to meditate on how we as Christians can learn new ways to “Love Bigger.” To observe the 40 days of Lent, Springs Rescue Mission is sharing devotionals from local faith and community leaders. The theme of this series is the same as that of our organization: “Love Bigger.” These two words are meant to be a reminder of the endless love of God in our lives, as well as a charge to us as Christians to meditate on how we might reflect that love on our fellow man.
Spring is coming, and that always stirs up visions of happy, green growing things in my head.
Here’s how it goes every year: I gather all the tools, the fertilizer, the compost. I joyfully plant healthy little begonias, marigolds or snapdragons. Sometimes I boldly venture into fruits and vegetables. I start with the best of intentions to tend to them faithfully. Then I miss a day of watering. Or maybe three. As plants begin withering and wilting under my care, I’m defeated.
“I’m just no good at gardening,” I say to myself. “It hurts my knees. …. Those aphids snacking on my strawberries are ticking me off! … My manicure is ruined … I think I’ll fill this area with some nice gravel from Lowe’s next year.”
No, I’m not a good gardener. But I know one. He’s the Cultivator of my soul. And I need to take a few lessons from Him.
For one, the Gardener of my heart is patient with me. He delights in me. He knows I need tender, loving care. He doesn’t neglect me. He waters me with His word. He prunes me where I need it. He doesn’t give up on me when my petals droop.
Most of all, Jesus isn’t afraid to get His hands dirty with me. To prove it, He inserted himself into this unclean world — his entrance and departure marked by a humble manger and a cruel cross. He walked among us on dusty roads telling stories about seed and soil. Isaiah even compared Jesus to a tender shoot that grew up out of parched ground.
What is parched ground? It’s dry, uncultivated and encrusted. It is fruitless. A fallow field can sit forever in this state, sealed up like Tupperware. Rain rolls right off it.
My heart can be a lot like that.
“Sow with a view to righteousness. Reap in accordance with kindness. Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” – Hosea 10:12
In this season of Lent, I’m looking intently at the big, bold love of Jesus that grew out of parched ground. If I’m going to be like Him and grow in Him, I’ve got to let Him do some serious tilling in the crusty soil of my heart. But first, some things must go.
There are rocks and weeds aplenty, and they all have names: Fear; Doubt; Guilt; Worry; Unforgiveness; Self-sufficiency; Self-pity. Some of them are deeply imbedded, and I cringe when I think of having to dig them out.
Do you too have some unwelcome residents in the garden of your heart? Are you feeling overwhelmed and unequipped to evict them?
There’s good news. You don’t have to do this hard work by yourself. He will do the tilling if you are willing. He promised! He wants to plant Himself in you, and grow you up into your true self, your child-of-God self.
“But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.” – John 1:12
God promises that those who seek Him will feel raindrops of righteousness on their faces. Then growth will come, and so will joy, knowing you are bearing fruit for Him.
Lord, come into my fallow field. I need You to pull the weeds and remove the rocks. Break up the parched places and plant yourself in me so that I can look like You and love like You. In Your name, Amen.
Debbie Christian is the former Submissions Director and Editor of Alive Literary Agency in Colorado Springs. Debbie is also the Board Chair of Tirzah International, a ministry which supports a network of global women leaders who are impacting the world with God’s love in the face of injustice.
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